the most genius PR campaign EVER.

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BlendTec’s “Will It Blend” campaign is one of the greatest things I have ever seen. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to know about the campaign because it went beyond viral (shame on me), but I am so glad my instructor showed it to our class yesterday. If you haven’t seen one of their “Will It Blend” YouTube videos, watch this one now. I promise…it will make your day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rofgMueCOqo

This campaign captured my interest because the concept of it was SO simple, yet SO effective. It’s so fun and made me laugh until I almost cried. I love that BlendTec’s CEO (Tom Dickson) is the star of the videos. It completely humanizes the company. I love that they allow their customers to interact with them by suggesting things to blend. I can’t think of anything funnier than blending random, inedible objects. I love that it shows how effective their product really is and proves the quality of the $400 blender. And to top it all off, this campaign boosted sales by more than 700% since the campaign started!!

How did it start? In 2006, BlendTec was a relatively unknown company and wanted to boost their brand awareness. The team bought a white lab coat, marbles, garden rake, McDonalds meal, rotisserie chicken, and Coca-Cola. Filmed in the company’s lunchroom, Dickson blended up these items. After five days of the videos being uploaded to YouTube, there were over six million views! They have been viewed over 100 million times since then.

The company also has a “Will It Blend” website, YouTube channel, Facebook page, and Twitter account.

From a PR perspective, I learned that it is possible to create an enormously effective campaign on a very minimal budget. As we spoke about in class, sometimes the most simple ideas are the best ideas. Often times, people get caught up in doing a campaign that is over-the-top and extravagant. That is not necessarily the best approach. People want to be engaged, and these videos did just that. They gave their audience exactly what they needed to be excited about the company and excited to go out and buy one of their blenders!

my interview with the lovely lindsay.

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I did an interview with my cousin (and friend), Lindsay Wright, about her public relations career and a campaign that she is most proud of. Lindsay has been in the industry for thirteen years. Since 2009, she has been a freelance writer and communications strategist.

Unfortunately, our schedules didn’t match up very well this week, so we ended up doing the interview over email. Although this was a very informal way of interviewing (and not the way I would prefer to do it), she was extremely understanding! So, thanks again Lindsay, for your insightful answers and accommodating attitude!

Me: What made you decide that PR was the career for you?

Lindsay: To be honest, I’d say that I stumbled on PR by accident… While I was in university (doing a BA in English and planning to become a high school teacher), I took a summer job at an advertising agency and was asked to help out on a PR campaign for a client working on a big Habitat for Humanity sponsorship. I’d really been enjoying the work in advertising and was already starting to wonder if that might be a better career path for me than teaching. This campaign was outside the agency’s area of expertise, so they brought in a senior PR professional to work on the project and I became her assistant for the summer. I had never really been exposed to PR as a career option before – and I loved it right away. The combination of writing and planning and working with people and constantly being challenged by moving pieces and variables was FUN. I can remember working ridiculous hours that summer, and hardly being able to sleep at night because I was so excited about what I’d be working on the next day. After my English degree, I enrolled immediately in a PR diploma program – and I was given the opportunity to stay at that agency and work on all PR-related projects. I’ve been in the industry ever since and I still get that can’t-sleep feeling sometimes when I’m working on a project. I think that’s a pretty good sign that you’ve found a career that’s a good fit!

Me: Please describe a successful & tactical PR project that you have worked on that you are especially proud of.

Lindsay: A few summers ago, I got a panicked call from a client of mine asking if I could take on a last-minute project. He’d been asked by a friend to help a group of small local potato farmers to organize their message and put pressure on the government to change new regulations that were quietly coming into effect – regulations that would suddenly make it illegal for them to sell potatoes at farmer’s markets, to local grocery stores and restaurants, or even at a roadside stand on their own farms. These regulations were put into place by a large producer co-op and they would mean the end for many of these small producers who’d been farming potatoes for generations.

It was so last-minute that I went to the meeting that night by myself – and walked into a room for 80+ angry farmers and other people who were upset by what was happening. By the end of the evening, everyone had had their say and we’d managed to decide on a few key representatives who would lead the charge. More importantly, I knew what we’d need to do to help them.

Working together with a team from Cocoon Branding (now ClarkHuot), we put together the fastest campaign I’ve ever worked on in my life. They put together some really impressive creative while I set up a blog, sent out media releases, drafted backgrounders, did some media training bootcamp for the people who’d be doing interviews on behalf of this coalition. Our goal was to gain media coverage and begin to put pressure on the Manitoba government and Peak of the Market leading up to an important meeting that aimed to have these new regulations reversed.

The news coverage was both instant and extensive. We were all over television, newspapers, and news websites – with the public squarely on our side. The creative was installed on billboards and in transit shelters… And the next day, our group met with the government and Peak of the Market – who agreed to re-write the exemptions for small potato growers, with the consultation of our group.

The entire campaign – from our first meeting to their last – lasted less than three weeks.

Me: Why are you most proud of this project?

Lindsay: I loved the challenge of figuring out how to make Manitobans aware – and make them CARE – about something they’d probably never even thought about before.

And obviously, the quick and tangible result of the campaign made it really special. We work on so many things that are a drop in a bucket and we hope that they help someone – but we can’t always be sure. This project meant everything to the farmers I met. And being able to deliver a positive outcome for them – an outcome that kept them in business – felt amazing.

Me: What is one piece of advice that you can give when it comes to taking on tactical PR projects, for someone like me who is just starting out in the PR world?

Lindsay: Just one?! 🙂

You’ll get stuck working on ‘boring’ projects sometimes – but there’s ALWAYS an interesting angle, and it’s your job to find it. Your work is always important to someone, and there’s always an audience that will care deeply about it. Once you tap into that, it will make YOU care – and that’s when you’ll do your best work.

Me: What keeps you excited and passionate about doing what you do?

Lindsay: I love the fact that every day is different. It’s impossible to work in PR and be bored (unless you’re boring). Those moving pieces and variables keep it interesting. And the tools we use change so rapidly – especially with social media and the internet. I’m not that old, but I’ve spent WEEKS of my life standing in front of a fax machine sending out news releases… I’m sure that I’ll see even more significant changes before I retire. But once you understand strategy and what makes a good campaign, you can learn to use any tool to help get you there.

Lindsay’s successful campaign for local potato farmers won many awards as well (for obvious reasons). Take a look at the images below to see some of the work they did!

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research, research, research!

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I am required to write  a few blog posts as part of a Public Relations course I am currently in. Each week I will be commenting on something PR-related. Feel free to read and comment on my posts as usual!

This week I will be talking about how important it is not to immediately jump to tactical ideas for a campaign when taking on a new PR project and how important research is as your first step.

A PR campaign needs to be well researched in order for it to be successful. So many of us “right-brained people” automatically want to blurt out a million tactical ideas for a project. It’s in our nature. We’re innately creative and sometimes we just can’t hold back all of our brilliant ideas. This isn’t a bad thing! But jumping too far ahead with these ideas can cause problems in the long run.

If a campaign isn’t researched, then some unfortunate things could possibly happen. Maybe you’ve chosen the wrong target audience. Maybe your message isn’t clear to who you thought your target audience is. Maybe your message will be completely misunderstood. Maybe the campaign won’t even make sense to anyone! Sometimes an idea seems like a great idea at the time, but when released to the real world, you might find out  it’s the exact opposite!

We’ve all grown up with biases and different influences around us. We form opinions based on experiences and the people who surround us, affect us, and inspire us. This proves that everyone has a different perspective on EVERYTHING. Our brains interpret words, visuals, sounds and messages differently than the next person beside us. Depending on our  age, sex, income, location, religion, political beliefs, etc, we will “get” certain things, and sometimes we will not get certain things.

Once you have done your research, understand your target audience, have a clear understanding of current events and related attitudes around what you are trying to campaign for, you will be able to make educated decisions on what your strategies, objectives, and tactics will be for your campaign. This will ensure that all aspects of your campaign connect and come back to the true message of what you are trying to accomplish and who you are trying to reach. This will help you to (hopefully) avoid a campaign flop. You don’t want your campaign to end up like these unfortunate failures.

This is a very short explanation of why research is so important. I could talk for days about why it is so important, but here is the bottom line of what I have been trying to say:

Get inside the heads of your target audience. Try to see things from their perspective. Assume how they will react to certain things. Find out what will pull at their heart strings or encourage them to action, whatever is is you are trying to accomplish. View current attitudes, reactions, and opinions on related subject matter to your campaign. Look everywhere you can to gain a clear understanding of how your campaign may be interpreted.  

Although it’s not fool proof (because we all know that shit happens sometimes), this is what research is all about and it should always, always, always be your first step in developing a PR campaign.